Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Morning at Devil's Lake

I visited Devil's Lake State Park today to decompress with nature and also get a little exercise by climbing the bluffs. Deer hunters were out en force, so I wore my bright yellow coat as a precaution. The climb up Balanced Rock trail is more difficult when I carry my photography and digiscoping gear, but stunning views make it a worthwhile endeavor.

My plan was to locate either Townsend's Solitaires or photograph Red Squirrels (one of my favorite critters). I like to call them Pine Squirrels, but they're known by other nicknames such as boomer, chatterbox, and chickaree. I spent around three hours hiking the bluffs, but no solitaires were found. On the other hand, the little red chatterboxes were scolding me on just about every path I took. But getting a nice photograph of one? Not so easy.

It wasn't until my way back down the bluff that I was rewarded with an opportunity to photograph a red squirrel. One began scolding me from a perch high up in a tree, but before I could get my spotting scope ready, it scurried down and disappeared beneath some rocks. Inspecting its hideout through my scope, I surmised there probably wasn't a backdoor, so I waited it out. It didn't take long before the 8 ounce furry poked its head out from behind the rocks.

Perhaps I wasn't so terrifying a monster after all, eh? It hopped up on the rock and posed nicely:

In fact, the red squirrel got so comfortable it grabbed a pine cone and went to work. I captured a video of this serious business:

All images © 2008 Mike McDowell

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